This week I have so enjoyed learning from Lane Yoder and the lessons revealed through the Single’s Survival Guide to Valentine’s Day. It caused me to remember a particular season of longing in my own life. I was young and single. I was at times content and focused, and other times I was longing for more. My heart’s desire was to be a wife and mother, yet God had not brought about “the one” yet. I wanted to give the Lord every part of my life, even my longings and desires. Yet that is often so much easier said than done. I felt my heart moving toward one particular person–a young man that was, in fact, one of my best friends. The transformation of love in my heart from that of best friend to much more was a very difficult transition.
My brother, Ken, had shared with me about the freedom of relinquishing our desires to the Father. He told me that he pictured his desires, whatever that may be, as a small box, like a gift. And in his prayers, he would offer the box, symbolizing his wants and desires, to the Lord. He would imagine leaving the box at the altar, and praying, “Not my will, but Yours, O God”.
So, through prayer, I brought my desires to God’s altar time and time again. However, I kept picking it back up, analyzing and trying to control it over and over. It was a vicious cycle of lay it down, pick it back up, lay it down, and pick it back up.
And then one day, I read about burnt offerings. It was February 14th, Valentine’s Day, 1991. Once again I was tempted with discontentment and sadness. I had begun reading the One Year Bible, as a New Year’s Resolution. I was tempted to skip the Old Testament reading, because it seemed so irrelevant to me. However, I wanted to hold true to my resolution, so I trudged through the assigned reading. The reading that day was about the preparation of the altars. I began to pray, saying, “Lord, I’ve tried that. I have tried again and again to lay down my desires and my unfulfilled dreams and hopes and wishes. I have tried to lay down my sadness and heartache, but I keep picking it back up.”
And then I read further about the preparation of burnt offerings. You see there were different types of offerings that the people presented to the Lord in the Old Testament. There were offerings of grain, and first fruits, there were offerings of sweet smelling incense, and drink offerings … and there were burnt offerings. And I began to think about the burnt offerings. If I offered my desires as a burnt offering, one of two things could happen. Either it would be something made beautiful, as silver refined in the fire, or it would be a black charred mess that I would not want to pick back up anyway. So I prayed that my desires would be as a burnt offering. I finally found that place of surrender. And the things that God had been trying to teach me during this difficult season suddenly began to form as truth in my heart. He was enough! He was what my heart longed for more than anything else. And, as time would tell, the burnt offering turned out to be a thing of beauty, refined by the fire of pain and surrender.
Within a month, the Lord had turned my situation totally around. The Lord rather dramatically told this young man, Mont Berry, that yes indeed I was the one He had prepared to be his wife. And yet, the refining fire had sealed my heart for my first love to be Jesus. I have found throughout our years of marriage that keeping Jesus as my first love allows me to love Mont and my children more purely, more completely, and more abundantly than I ever could if I had placed them first in my heart.
By July, I knew that we were going to be married, I just didn’t know when. I was to meet Mont in Nashville, where he was doing a rotation at Vanderbilt. The night before I left, I could not sleep because words kept rolling over and over in my mind. I got up and simply wrote down, in about five minutes, what the Holy Spirit was stirring within me. It was basically a summary, in the form of a poem, of the great lessons I had learned through that season of my life. I wrote it down in calligraphy on nice parchment paper, rolled it up, and put it in my backpack. I thought I would share it with Mont, if God so led. That Saturday, we went for a long drive, as Mont expressed his need to “get out of town”. Of course, I did not care where we were, as long as we were together. We drove to Black Mountain, North Carolina, and climbed the mountain trails to the top. There was a beautiful view, and Mont told me that it was the place that he had prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. I reached into the bag, and unrolled the poem and handed it to him to read. He read:
Though You Are Enough
Jesus, my love, my truest friend,
Joys you give me, and pain you mend.
How can I thank you? How can I express
What’s in my heart of gratefulness?
Though You are enough to satisfy,
You’ve given me another, in whom my trust can lie.
You’ve given me another love and friend
Who will stay beside me to the very end.
Though You are enough, my wholeness, I know,
You’ve given me someone faithful, someone I can hold.
Someone who my joys will share,
Someone who will see my pain and care.
Someone who loves You as much as I.
Someone who for Your Cause would die.
Though You are enough, I know it’s true,
I thank You for this other love, so fresh and new.
And when the newness fades away
By struggles and pain that will come our way,
We will still have You, our truest friend,
To rekindle our love and make us one again.
Though You are enough, this truth will ring;
Though I love You more, my Lord, my King;
Though You are enough, that’s plain to see,
Thank You, precious Jesus, for this other love for me.
After reading the poem, Mont reached into his backpack and pulled out a beautiful engagement ring, and asked me to marry him! Through the years, I have made a conscious effort to remember those lessons learned through that hard time. And I can truthfully say that Jesus is enough. I love Him more, yet He fills my heart with such an abundance of love for my husband and children, the depth of which I cannot even attempt to describe. Even through the difficult seasons of our lives, our Lord is at work. He takes care to prepare us for our future. The waiting is often long and hard. But during those waiting periods we can experience the warmth of faith, and the intimacy of friendship with the King of Kings. His plans are always worth the wait.
For our wedding we put the lyrics with the tune of an old hymn and my sister sang it during the ceremony as a wedding prayer. Ten years later, our dear friend, Rivers Rutherford, arranged to have it recorded in Nashville. Click on the link below to hear the beautiful result.
Dear Friend, as we wrap up this Valentine’s Day Series, please know that everyone has a story of longing and learning and letting go. And the answer to everyone’s difficult story is the fact that HE IS ENOUGH.
Happy Valentine’s Day!